There are children's books dealing with death and grieving that are appropriate for youngsters of all ages. These types of books may be used when talking to a child about the death of a loved one or a pet.
Books About General Death and Grieving
- Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss by Michaelene Mundy is for children ages 9-12. The book offers a realistic look at death and is filled with positive, life-affirming ways for promoting healthy grieving.
- Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies by Janis Silverman is for children of all ages. This activity book helps children dealt with grief through art therapy. Sensitive topics are discussed.
- Water Bugs & Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney for children ages 9-12. Without bringing theology into the picture, this book talks about what happens after someone dies using the analogy of a dragonfly leaving its "nest."
- I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas is for children ages four and up. This story helps children understand that grief is a normal feeling and that it is OK to be sad.
- What Is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis is for children ages 4-8. After losing his grandfather, a little boy questions everyone about Heaven and finds that the answer lies with his grandmother, who is also missing her husband who died.
- Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen and Taylor Bills is for children ages 4-8. It is a storybook that centers around a woman who recently lost someone she loved very much. The book recognizes that each person of a family grieves in his or her own way and reaffirms that this is OK to do.
Books About the Death of a Parent
- Daddy, Up and Down: Sisters Grieve the Loss of Their Daddy by Lila and Anna Stenson looks at three young sisters who are grieving their father's death.
- The Hero in my Pocket by Marlene Lee helps children ages 6-12 cope with the death of a military service member. It also has pages for the child to write stories or draw pictures.
Books About the Death of a Grandparent
- Farewell, Grandpa Elephant: What Happens When a Loved One Dies? by Isabel Abedi looks at helping children deal with the death of a grandparent. Grandpa Elephant is about to go to the elephant graveyard but he wants his grandchildren to understand that there is sadness, possibilities, and good memories when someone dies.
- Where Is Grandpa? by T. A. Barron is a book written for children 4 and up. This book helps children understand that a dead loved one is still around in his/her personal memories.
- One More Wednesday by Malika Doray is a story about a small bunny understanding what the death of his beloved grandmother means. The book is suitable for children ages four and up.
Books About the Death of a Sibling
- The Empty Place: A Child's Guide Through Grief (Let's Talk) by Roberta Temes, PhD is for children 4 and up. In this story, a 9 year old and his family must deal with the death of his big sister.
- Why Did She Have to Die? by Lurlene McDaniel is written for children ages 11 and up. This is the story of a girl named Elly who is mourning the death of her older sister Kathy and managing her conflicting feelings.
Books About the Death of a Friend
- Angels in Pink: Holly's Story by Lurlene Mcdaniel youths older than 12. This novel is about a group of girls (The Pink Angels) deal with the tragedy of losing someone close to them through a random crime.
- I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children About the Death of a Friend by Janice Cohn looks at the reactions and feelings of a child after a playmate is hit by a car. Having an adult work through this story with the child probably increases the effectiveness of this book.
- Josh: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Friend by Stephanie Jeffs looks at the sadness and pain after a loss and what happens to the body after death.
Books Dealing with the Loss of a Pet
There are also many children's books available that help young ones understand the death of a pet:
- When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers for children ages 4-8. Through this book, the infamous Mr. Rogers helps children understand the loss of a family pet. It helps them explore their feelings of sadness and loneliness.
- The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst for children older than 4 years old. In helping to deal with the death of his cat, the boy in this book makes a list of the 10 things he liked about him.
- No Dogs Allowed! by Bill Wallace is for children 9-12. This book helps a young girls understand the death of a pet horse through learning to love a new pet dog.
- Remembering Ruby: For Families Living Beyond the Loss of a Pet by Melisa Wells for young teens. This book is about a young boy and his family after the illness and death of their pet dog, Ruby.
- Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant discusses where cats go after they die and all the fun things that the cat gets to do. This author also wrote a book about the death of a pet dog as well. These stories are appropriate for children 4 and older.
Books for Very Young Children
- I Heard Your Daddy Died by Mark Scrivani is aimed for children ages two to six. This book explains that it is OK to be sad; it also has ideas to help the child remember the parent.
- My Grandma Died: A Child's Story about Death and Loss by Lory Britain is written for children 3-6 years old. Here a young child discusses feelings about the death of a grandmother.
- Always and Forever by Alan Durant tells the story of how Mole, Otter, and Hare deal with the death of their friend Fox. This story is good from preschoolers.
Books as a Gateway to Discussion
While books are great tools for helping children understand the death of a loved one or a pet, nothing replaces sitting down with them and explaining what happened. Children are full of questions, so be sure you are prepared ahead of time to try and answer those. Remember, they are only children and don't need to know every single fact surrounding the person's death. Usually, just the simple basic facts will satisfy their curiosity.